MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will require all students, teachers and staff to mask up, regardless of vaccination status, when entering school buildings this fall, the board of education announced Tuesday.
The mask mandate will apply to elementary, middle and high schools, and will be enforced inside all school buildings and on buses. MCPS clarified that masks will not be required outside, but are strongly recommended for unvaccinated people.
The decision was handed down shortly before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made its own major announcement, reversing course and recommending vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again.
Both MCPS and the CDC cited concerns around rising COVID-19 numbers, the spread of the Delta variant among vaccinated people and the fact that a vaccine is still not available for children under age 12.
Prince George's County Public Schools also announced Monday that they would continue to mandate mask-wearing for all students, teachers and staff, regardless of vaccination status, for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year.
Maryland government officials have strongly recommended mask-wearing, but ultimately they let the decision fall on each individual school system.
Here's a list of mask policies for school districts in the DMV ahead of the start of in-person learning:
D.C. Public Schools (DCPS): Masks Required
DCPS will fully re-open to all students for in-person learning starting Aug.30, and all students, staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings until further notice, as stated in DCPS's reopening portal.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS): Masks Required Indoors
"At today's @mocoboe meeting it was determined that students and staff will be required to wear face coverings in buildings in the fall," MCPS tweeted Tuesday.
Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS): Masks Required
Prince George's County Public School will continue to mandate mask-wearing for all students and staff for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, CEO Monica Goldson announced July 26.
Washington County Public Schools: Decision TBA
“Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) has communicated with our learning community that we are prepared to begin the 2021-2022 school year by following executive orders from the Office of the Governor and the State that are in effect at that time. We are committed to providing safe and healthy schools for our students and staff as was done with all students learning in person during the 2020-2021 school year. WCPS will continue following physical distancing recommendations, implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and encouraging healthy habits such as frequent handwashing and sanitizing. Our school families and staff can expect to learn more specific details regarding any additional health and safety precautions closer to the August 30th start date.”
Arlington Public Schools (APS): Masks Required Indoors
Although classroom capacities will return to pre-pandemic levels, APS will continue to mandate that all staff, students and visitors wear masks while inside buildings and school busses, as stated on the district's website. However, students with recess will no longer be required to wear face coverings while outdoors.
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS): Masks Required
As of March 3, ACPS will still require all staff, students and visitors to wear face coverings while inside buildings or on school busses, as found in the district's COVID protocols booklet.
Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS): Decision TBA
The district has not officially determined whether students will be required to wear masks for the 2021-2022 school year.
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS): Maks Required Indoors
FCPS announced their decision on July 28, one day after the CDC recommended masks be worn indoors at all schools.
"To ensure our schools stay open and safe this school year, FCPS will start the school year with universal masking. Masks will be worn at all times by both staff and students indoors and on school buses, but are not required when eating or when outside during recess, PE, or other activities. Universal masking is a critical factor in ensuring all students can return to our buildings, especially when social distancing is not possible and not all our students are eligible yet for vaccinations. We will be regularly reviewing our masking practices in line with updates to national, state and local health recommendations."
Prince William's County Public Schools (PWCPS): Decision TBA
The school district has not yet released detailed guidance on mask expectations and will update its policy based on CDC recommendations, as stated on the district's website. However, students using school busses will continue to be required to use face coverings.
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS): Decision TBA
As found in the district's Fall 2021 reopening plan, LCPS has not yet made a decision regarding the use of face masks and will update parents sometime later in the summer with a specific policy.